SAN FRANCISCO — As umpires back in New York replayed his stolen base over and over again, Buster Posey turned and watched it on the scoreboard at AT&T Park. He looked up at Javier Baez, the Fastest Tagger Alive.
“I think you got me,” Posey said.
The umpires disagreed, and moments later Posey was racing around third for the final run of a 6-3 win over the Chicago Cubs.
“It was really close,” Posey said of the play. “I guess I’m a little faster than I thought.”
When the margins are that thin, perhaps he benefits from the occasional position change. With Brandon Belt on the disabled list and a left-hander on the mound, Bruce Bochy shifted Posey to first and put Nick Hundley behind the plate. Posey had a three-run homer. Hundley had a double and guided Ty Blach through his latest strong start.
Bochy was hesitant when asked if it’s a duo he’ll turn to more often. He would like to get Ryder Jones regular time at first base, with Pablo Sandoval at third. Posey is still the best defensive catcher in the National League, and the Giants won’t move him from his natural position often.
The results, however, speak for themselves. Posey is batting .444 in 54 at-bats as a first baseman and .302 when he’s behind the plate.
“It does give him a little break and keeps his legs fresher,” Bochy said.
Posey said there’s a fine line, but noted that first is “definitely less taxing.”
The Giants have always toed that line, and Bochy said he’ll check with Posey to see if he needs a day off Wednesday when the Giants play a day game. The next road trip — to Washington D.C. and Miami — promises to be a scorcher and the coaches will surely keep a close eye on their franchise catcher.
Belt won’t even be cleared to travel, and as the Giants try to find momentum, maybe they can shift things around for a few weeks. Posey’s numbers at first stand out. Hundley, an offseason addition, is batting .357 over his last 18 games.
The Giants need to develop Jones and they need to see what they have in Sandoval, but they also want to get that winning taste back, and the Posey-Hundley duo is a pretty good path, especially against lefties.
“This is workable,” Bochy said. “It is.”
If he does get more time at first, Posey likely will break his modest career-high (six) for stolen bases. He’s perfect in five attempts this season, and he did not think it was a coincidence that good friend Brandon Crawford swiped his third a couple of minutes after Posey took his fifth.
“Yes, yes, 100 percent (on purpose) — because I’ve already been talking smack,” Posey said. “And I told (Denard) Span that I’m tied with him, so he needs to step it up.”